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Healing from an Abusive Relationship

imageIt’s a New Day…

Firstly, I want to apologise for not posting anything last month. Generally, I aim to write at least one post each month, but lately, I’ve had some significant life changes.

After many years of being single, I’m now in a new relationship. This summer I’m getting married and moving to another region of the UK.

For a season, my priorities have shifted, as I take a step of faith into a different future.

So, this is a very personal post about my own journey of healing from a previous abusive relationship, and gaining the courage to risk love again.

Manipulation and Control

Living with someone who uses manipulation and control to exert power can cause long term damage. This was the situation I found myself in, and it was a lengthy process for the cycles of guilt, shame and self blame to be completely broken.

Perhaps you can picture the scenario:

He loves me; he loves me not.

He is charming and attentive towards me; he is having affairs.

“I don’t want to be seen with you, if you are going out dressed like¬†that.”

Nothing I do or say seems to be “right.”

He witholds affection, and tells me the problem lies with me; it’s due to my “fear of intimacy.”

When I try to change my behaviour, in an attempt to make the relationship work, he moves the goal posts.

He points the finger of blame at me when he finds situations difficult to handle.

He asks me to cover up for him, even to lie for him.

In moments of intimacy, when I share some of my hurts and insecurities, he initially appears to understand; this is stored up and used as ammunition against me, to confirm that I’m “mentally unbalanced,” and my opinion therefore can’t be trusted.

My emotions become erratic, with extreme highs and lows. I feel close to the edge; my behaviour seems a little crazy at times. I start to fear that I’m losing my mind.

Who am I?

Eventually, I start to forget who I am. My confidence is in shreds. Confusion, depression, feelings of desperation and powerlessness are an everyday feature of my life. The days pass in a blur, as I battle to survive the onslaught of verbal attacks on my character.

Caring for and protecting my children becomes my main focus, which causes more problems, as I’m accused of always putting the children first. My judgement is impaired; I can’t tell the difference between truth, exaggeration, and lies.

After the relationship finishes, it takes me a long time to emotionally let go. Even longer before I’m brave enough to talk with friends and bring the truth out into the light. Longer still until I can read an e-mail from my ex, without feeling fearful.

Severing Unhealthy Ties

It requires two people to sustain an unhealthy, codependent relationship. The person I am now would spot the warning signs and walk away. Back then, I was far less secure, and I engaged in a neurotic process of trying to rescue my ex from his depression and mood swings, and trying to earn his love. This wasn’t a healthy choice on my part. Both of us needed to take responsibility for our personal healing.

When an unhealthy relationship breaks down, the physical connection can be broken off quite quickly, simply by living apart. The emotional and spiritual connections can take longer to sever.

One book that I found especially helpful in my recovery from codependency is “Women Who Love Too Much,” by Robin Norwood.

Forgiveness and Healing of Memories

Choosing to forgive my ex for the hurts he inflicted was an important first step towards healing. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean allowing the person back into your life. In my case, I’ve also needed to establish strong, healthy boundaries, to prevent further manipulation and abuse.

I’ve received a lot of healing through prayer ministry, where the soul ties with my ex have been cut off. I’ve also been able to allow Jesus in to heal specific traumatic memories, so that those memories no longer have power and influence in my life.

Through my relationship with Jesus, I’ve learned so much about unconditional love. I’ve learned to love and accept myself, as well as other people, and to honour the uniqueness of each individual. I’ve enjoyed being single. During my years of singleness, walking closely with Jesus, I’ve discovered my calling and life’s purpose.

Trust Restoredimage

There are layers of healing; I knew that for me, to trust another person in a close relationship again would be the final stage of my healing.

Now I have a relationship with someone who loves and accepts me as I am, who honours my gifting and calling, and is committed to me in a way that sets me free to be me. Occasionally I have flashbacks, as old memories, that were buried, get stirred up. When this happens, we talk about it, pray and hand it over to Jesus.

My new relationship is bringing me into greater freedom than I’ve ever known.

For any readers, who have experienced dysfunctional, abusive relationships, I would like to say:

You are important to God and to me. Healing is possible.

If you would like us to pray for you, you can receive free, confidential prayer, via the prayer requests page.

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War Trauma

imageDivine Coincidence?

We stood outside the bakery shop window, gaining a little shelter from the pouring rain. The shoppers were not lingering to eat their chips at the marketplace benches today, but hurrying home to retreat from the stormy weather.

One of our friends had texted, saying she had a dream last night about someone being healed outside the bakery shop. Feeling a little foolish, standing there in the rain, we asked God to show us who we were supposed to meet.

He came and stood right next to us, and started talking. At first, it was general conversation about how he had come to the town for work. He told us his name was Simon, and he was an ex marine.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Conversation flowed so effortlessly. Simon told us how he had post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the forces, and he had found life very difficult. Thankfully, a friend had given him a job opportunity, and helped him to get back on his feet.

We listened, as Simon elaborated further on some of the atrocities he had seen during active service in Afghanistan and Iraq; even witnessing some acts of violence, which he knew to be wrong, but he had turned a blind eye.

What about Forgiveness?

At this point, we had not asked Simon if we could pray for him; we were just listening to his story.

His next words were so poignant. “There are so many beautiful places in the world. But men destroy things. I’ve been involved in so many bad things in war. I sometimes get flashbacks. I’ve been talking to ‘the man upstairs.’ I’m wondering if there is forgiveness.”

We told Simon that we talk to ‘the man upstairs,’ too; in fact, we have Jesus Christ in our lives, and forgiveness is readily available through Jesus.

Simon’s countenance changed, when we told him that we didn’t think our meeting with him was mere coincidence. We were standing in this exact location, at this exact moment, because we had been led here through a prophetic dream. He looked visibly moved.

As we prayed for Simon, he appeared to be close to tears. We prayed simple prayers for healing from the trauma he had experienced, and we encouraged him to talk to Jesus himself when he was back home, and receive his forgiveness and peace.

Simon asked for a card with a phone number, in case he wanted to talk to us again, then shook our hands, said thank you, and walked away.

Courage

What I observed in Simon is true courage. Here is a man who knows how to handle weapons, a man who has killed in war zones, and who has worked in tough security jobs in civilian life. Here is a man who also loves his family, who sees the beauty amidst the brokenness in the world, and who dreams of a better future.

God bless you, Simon, as you receive your forgiveness. May you know the love of Jesus and the peace that passes understanding.


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Forgive Yourself

When God Speaks About Loss

Cheryl visited our stall, while we were giving destiny readings at an event in the city. Spread out on a table before us, was a selection of random, everyday objects, which we used merely as prompts, while asking the Holy Spirit to give us prophetic words for people.

imageScanning the objects on the table briefly, Cheryl gently picked up the nappy pins, with decorative pink and blue heads. Years ago, when babies wore the old fashioned kind of cloth nappies, these were a familiar item in family homes.

My friend, who was on the stall with me, glanced across, meeting my eyes. Both of us were sensing Cheryl’s pain and loss.

My recollection of the words we spoke to Cheryl is vague. Something about her son. What I do recall most clearly is that God prompted me to affirm Cheryl, speaking positive words about her being a good Mom.

Burden of Blame

Hearing this, Cheryl dissolved into tears, sharing how her adult son had been killed in a motorbike accident. How she wished she had told him to take the car that fateful day! She felt that it was all her fault.

Holding her hand, but not wanting to intrude on this moment, we let her cry. God’s loving presence was so tangible, and He was bringing healing to Cheryl’s wounded heart, without our interference.

“It’s not your fault. You need to forgive yourself.” Very sensitively, we repeated this more than once, until, finally, Cheryl’s expression changed from despair to hope. As we prayed with Cheryl, we encouraged her to surrender all the pain and the feelings of guilt she had been carrying to Jesus.

Letting Go

imageBereavement is a different journey for each individual, and I had not walked in Cheryl’s shoes. I could only imagine the devastating heartbreak of losing her son, and the torment of blaming herself for many years. The questions, the guilt, the memories, the might have beens. The only thing I can say with certainty is that Jesus ministered to this precious lady, and she stepped into new freedom that day.

This burden – this inability to forgive herself for her son’s death – was a powerful force in Cheryl’s life, preventing her from moving forwards. This burden, that Cheryl had been carrying around for many years, which may have taken numerous specialist counselling sessions to resolve, fell away in a matter of a few minutes.

(Note: My experience is that Jesus sometimes sets people free of specific emotional wounds very quickly. This is not to say that I do not also acknowledge the wonderful work that many counsellors and therapists do, and that healing can occur through counselling, too. I also recognise that healing from deep emotional trauma is often a process, rather than a one off event).

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is so powerful. Going through life with a heavy burden of guilt for failings, either real or imagined, can be agonising and unfulfilling. Yet, for some of us, forgiving ourselves can be more challenging than forgiving others, who have hurt us.

If you are carrying a burden of guilt, I encourage you to let it go. Maybe that is the last bastion; the last line of defence against letting yourself receive healing. As you allow God’s unconditional love to reach into your heart, you can learn to love yourself.

Do you have experience of coming to terms with loss? Or experience of the power of forgiveness? Please feel free to share in the comments below. And if you would like us to pray for you, please check out our prayer requests page.